Washington -- The Federal Communications Commission is
unlikely to force cable operators to lease channels to unaffiliated Internet-service
providers now that chairman William Kennard is on record opposing the idea.
In comments to reporters last Wednesday, Kennard said ISPs
were not entitled to lease channel capacity from cable operators under a 1984 law that set
aside cable channels for third parties that wanted to provide video programming to cable
"On this particular one, I am having trouble seeing
how Internet access fits within the definition of cable leased access," he said.
"I looked at the statute and the way we implemented it, and I think it's sort of
a square-peg, round-hole problem for me."
Last June, Internet Ventures Inc., an ISP based in Redondo
Beach, Calif., asked the FCC to require cable operators to lease space to ISPs. But the
cable industry urged denial, saying that the law mandates access only for providers of
one-way video programming, which was generally offered by broadcast stations in 1984.
The FCC released a cable-competition report two weeks ago,
which concluded that video streaming over the Internet remained "less than
In his comments to reporters, Kennard made it clear that he
was not speaking on behalf of the other four commissioners.
At the Western Show last month, IVI president Don Janke
said that based on recent discussions with senior FCC officials, he was not optimistic
about winning approval from the agency. Kennard's comments reinforced that belief.
"With all due respect to the chairman, here's the
real simplicity of the issue: If the FCC denies our petition, it is regulating the
Internet out of the video-programming business," Janke added.
IVI operates a Web site, PeRKInet (www.perki.net),
which provides access to more than 100 cable and broadcast channels, both domestic and
international, that stream video programming over the Internet.